Gravitational force is interesting....it can be defined in very simple physical terms as the force of mutual attraction which pulls two bodies together. Perhaps I'm stretching it a bit, maybe taking a bit too much "metaphoric license" per se...... but over the years, and in my travels, I've noticed another gravitational force of sorts. Cultural gravitation is what I called it. It is the invisible, undeniable force that our culture, whether by nature or nurture, has on us. It's much stronger for those of us who are far away from our original "home". And for many, there are those items which bring on that inner, nostalgic warmth that is at the center of this gravitational pull. And if you're like me, food is that source, it marks births, deaths, birthdays, reunions.....memories of friends and families. It is that center. Over the years, I've seen that gravitational force in action. What else could explain the folks waiting in the parking lot of a Chinese Restaurant on Buford Highway in Atlanta, some having driven from as far off as Birmingham, arriving at 7am in the morning, waiting for Dim Sum. Or seeing more Chinese on one Sunday, shopping and eating at a mall in Phoenix, than I knew lived in Arizona. There are celebrations and events that provide that "center" such as festivals. And, there are even regularly scheduled events, which provide the weekly comfort food fix, allowing one to face another week. The weekend Wat Thai Temple Food Court was one of those weekly events. And, the amazing, OC Food blogger supreme, Elmo mentioned another, the Indonesian Food Fair. That post was back in 2006, and I had added it to my list......but much like the Wat Thai Temple food court, much to my disappointment, the Indonesian Food Fair bit the dust. Whether, like the Wat Thai Temple, it was NIMBY-ism, or not, I don't recall. And if it was, I don't know if I blame them. We live on a nice quiet street.There's a Church right down the road, and a couple of times a year, they have events, which we don't mind, it's kind of cute and quaint. But if they had them every weekend......I'm not so sure.
But luckily for me, right before a recent solo trip back to LA, I went over to Chowhound's LA board and saw this. Like a Phoenix, the Indonesian Food Fair had risen from the ashes. (And if you're wondering, Wat Thai Temple's Food Court is back in action, though on Sunday's only.) Which is how I found myself parking my car in front of the Duarte Inn on a recent Saturday morning.
I had to crack up...... I had done some work in the area during the late 90's, and one of the guys I worked with just loved the El Pollo Loco which faces the street in front of the motel.
The food fair starts at 10am, and if today was a good example, it is pretty small and intimate. On this day, only 5 booths were present.
But let me tell you.......the fragrances were amazing. Unfortunately for me, it was not a Siren's song, but the wonderful scents that drew me close.
And it didn't help that everyone was so nice and patient with me......a total neophyte with regards to Indonesian Food.
Most everything is steam table goods....but don't let that dissuade you.
One of the ladies ordered like seven plates from this booth.
And the young lady working this booth was so very nice and patient. I just kinda stood in the background until the ladies were done, and the young lady explained all the dishes to me.... needless to say, I was impressed.
So what about the food? Let me first say, the colors are a feast for the eyes...and the smells are a feast for the nose. And overall, some of it like the "yellow rice" (Nasi Kuning) I couldn't get enough of.
And who doesn't love a boiled egg?
We found some of the offerings to be amazingly mild, in spite of the scents.
But this eggplant was killer:
And I felt like I should post the photo of this on my wall.
I found the Nasi Gudeg (simmered jackfruit) to be a bit too sweet....must be the palm sugar.
But the "spicy fish" was the best thing on the plate....which was not too spicy for us, in spite of looks.
Again, don't be like me and be seduced by all the smells, you should let Elmo be your guide....and the folks here are nice.
Indonesian Food Festival - Saturday 10am - 2pm Duarte Inn 1200 Huntington Dr Duarte, CA 91010
One last item, I'm dedicating this post to "Amy", who has moved to LA from San Diego. Amy emailed me recently, and mentioned that she's been reading for a few years, but had never had the chance to comment or email me. I'm sure Amy is a lot like most of you folks, and I just wanted to thank everyone for checking us out. Oh, and Amy, Los Angeles and Orange County has much to offer.......like the Indonesian Food Fair. Just let me know what good eats you find out there, ok?